Sunday, January 11, 2009


January 12, 2009

2010 Verbal Commitment Alert: Isaiah Epps, 6'2 (G) from Plainfield (NJ) High School.

Pittsburgh basketball and coach Jamie Dixon have found that being ranked No. 1 in the country has its privileges. Following last week's win over Georgetown, the Pitt head coach had been on the recruiting trail, including a stop at the Playaz New Year's Jump-off where he watched 2010 Jersey guard Isaiah Epps. Epps certainly noticed an ended his recruitment less than a week later as Pitt Lands the Jersey Guard (ZagsBlog.com) to get a head start on their 2010 class.


Senior: Jermaine Dixon (G)
Juniors: Gilbert Brown (SF/G), Bradley Wanamaker (G), Gary McGhee (C), DeJuan Blair (PF)
Sophomores: Travon Woodall (PG), Nasir Robinson (G/F), Ashton Gibbs (G)
2009 Commits: Lamar Patterson (SG), Dante Taylor (PF), J/J. Richardson (F), Talib Zanna (BF/C), , Dwight Miller* (PF)
2010 Commitment: Isaiah Epps

* Dwight Miller is expected to redshirt the 2008-2009 season and have freshman eligibility in the 2009-2010 season.


Nothing like striking while the iron is hot and the Panthers venture back into New Jersey, using assistant coach Brandin Knight's ties to the NJ Playaz AAU program, to land 6-foot-2 guard Isaiah Epps out of Plainfield High School to kick off their 2010 recruiting efforts. Epps is a combination guard that is projecting as a point guard in college, but is also a very capable scorer with range beyond the three-point arc.

His former high school coach, Pete Vasil, told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com that Seton Hall and Rutgers both offered scholarships in the summer of 2007 and other schools under consideration included Maryland, Marquette and Kansas was also showing increased attention.

Epps has several ties to the Pitt program as current Panther frosh Travon Woodall is a second cousin and he knows Ashton Gibbs, another Jersey product, well. The familiarity and relationship he has built with Brandin Knight swayed Epps to commit early to the Panthers.

There is expected to be a limited amount of scholarships available in the class of 2010 as well (one on paper). Local guard Tom Droney had the Panther coach at a recent game this week, so Pitt is still showing interest in the local prospect. The other top target seems to be 6-foot-5 wing Will Barton out of Lake Clifton High School in Maryland. Also, coach Dixon made a trip out to the Dayton (OH) area this week to watch menacing 2010 post prospect Adreian Payne, a highly touted 6-foot-8 PF/C.

Here are our previous notes on Pitt's 4-player 2009 recruiting class:

Talib Zanna has impressed the NBE Basketball Report in the summer for the player he has become, but the player he could become has always had our staff very intrigued. Early in July at the Agent Zero to Hero event Zanna showed his ability to run the floor and improved willingness to battle in the post. At the Reebok Summer Championships Zanna displayed ability to face-up and attack off the dribble.

At 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds Zanna has the size to compete in the Big East and the athletic ability that had college coaches watching this summer. One major college assistant watching Zanna this summer remarked he "Has Major upside! Very long and athletic. Rebounds very well." Zanna finished his summer playing for the Triple Threat AAU program after starting the AAU circuit with the DC Blue Devils. He will compete in his senior season with Bishop McNamara this season.

It was a very productive summer for J.J. Richardson playing with the Houston Elite AAU program. His blue-collar style and constant energy and effort in the paint caught the eye of the Pittsburgh coaching staff and they found a perfect fit for their program to continue the success they have enjoyed in recent years. A source close to Richardson and his recruitment believes Pitt got one of the biggest sleepers in the country as the 6-foot-7, strong and athletic forward is just beginning to put things together on the basketball court.

Despite modest stats on a loaded high school team last season at Hightower High School in Fort Bend (TX), the former state of Ohio native impressed this summer at events such as the Reebok All-American Camp and during his time in Vegas. He recently visited Pittsburgh and his commitment only seemed like a manner of time afterwards.

"I loved it," said Richardson of his visit. "The players were all very nice and they brought me in to everything they were doing. They're definitely number one right now. I almost committed, and I really thought about it, but I wanted to have someplace to compare it to first."

That 'someplace' was supposed to be Oklahoma State, another school that Richardson was offered a scholarship from, but he never made it to campus as the Cowboys' frontcourt scholarships seemed to be taken up with some recent commitments.

Richardson and Zanna join Dante Taylor, whose dominating summer AAU season got the attention of Memphis, UConn, Syracuse, and Kansas, among many others, as a trio of frontcourt players in the 2009 class. Taylor was targeted by Pitt assistant coach Tom Herrion last year and Herrion put the full court press on Taylor ever since, and that made an impression on Taylor, who cites Pitt’s loyalty as one of the main reasons that he chose to be a Panther.

Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon landed his biggest commitment yet in his time as the Pittsburgh head coach when Taylor pulled the trigger and committed to the Panthers. The Pitt staff had made Taylor their priority in the class of 2009 at power forward nearly a year ago and their hard work paid off as the entire Pitt staff had been seen at many of Taylor's games this spring and summer, especially at the Reebok Summer Classic in New Jersey.

Taylor, Zanna and Richardson all fit in well at Pitt as strong and athletic forwards who are tremendous rebounders and will play strong and physical near the rim. Taylor has played his high school career for Trevor Brown at National Christian Academy and also plays for the NCA AAU team, which is also run by Brown as part of their high school program. Taylor has excelled at the NBA Top 100 camp and the Lebron James Skills Academy, solidifying his status of one of the top players in the class of 2009.

Rounding out the current Pitt class of 2009 of verbal commitments is Lamar Patterson, a guard/forward who will be attending St. Benedict's prep in Newark (NJ) this coming season. The Lancaster (PA) native committed to Pittsburgh last year during the high school season. Patterson is a versatile backcourt performer who offers very good size to the wing.



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